The Baltimore Orioles have little to worry about with a huge advantage in their division, though their struggles on the road could become a concern if they continue to drag on.
The AL East leaders hope to get their prolific offense back on track as they try to avoid their longest road losing streak in more than three years in Sunday's season series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.Although it averaged 6.1 runs and hit .286 with 22 home runs during a recent 9-2 homestand, Baltimore has totaled six runs with a .168 average during a season-worst five-game road skid.The Orioles (82-59) finished with six hits in Friday's 3-0 loss at Tropicana Field, then Chris Davis and Nick Hundley each had two of the team's seven hits in Saturday's 3-2 defeat.Yunel Escobar scored the winning run on Hundley's passed ball in ninth inning."I'm not going to dwell on that," said manager Buck Showalter, whose club still owns the biggest division lead in baseball. "They have pitched really well the last two games, and that's been the difference."The Orioles now try to avoid their longest road losing streak since a seven-game slide in July 2011.Davis, who hit his 26th home run Saturday, has been a bright spot with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last 13 games. He's 11 for 29 with two homers lifetime against Jeremy Hellickson, who will look to avoid being battered by Baltimore again.Hellickson (1-3, 3.74 ERA) has a 6.28 ERA in his last five starts against the Orioles, giving up 37 hits -- five homers -- in 28 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 5-4 loss at Baltimore on Aug. 28 but avoided the decision, then was even worse Tuesday when he surrendered five runs over 3 1/3 innings in an 8-2 home defeat to Toronto.The Rays (69-74) are 0-5 in the right-hander's last five starts."It's extremely frustrating," he told MLB's official website.Adam Jones had two hits versus Hellickson last week, leaving him with a .364 average and four homers in 44 career at-bats. Steve Pearce, who homered in the matchup, returned Saturday after missing seven games with a strained abdomen.Bud Norris (12-8, 3.83) will face off with Hellickson again after not getting the decision in last week's matchup, surrendering four runs over six innings. Norris was much better Tuesday and beat Cincinnati, giving up four hits over six shutout innings in a 5-4 win.The right-hander is 8-3 with a 3.30 ERA in his last 13 starts.David DeJesus is 8 for 15 with three home runs lifetime when facing Norris, while James Loney has gone 11 for 21 and Matt Joyce is 4 for 9. Evan Longoria is just 2 for 11 in the matchup, though he's homered off Norris this season.The Rays are seeking their first home series sweep since May 23-25 versus Boston.The Orioles lead the season series 11-7 and haven't had more wins against Tampa Bay in one year since 2006.